Livi lose out on RBS Shield to Marr

Livi's Dean Edwards and Gregor Ness of Marr. Picture: Neil Hanna
Livi's Dean Edwards and Gregor Ness of Marr. Picture: Neil Hanna
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LIVINGSTON rugby captain Andy McMahon insisted his team had shown “too much respect” to conquerors Marr after an eagerly awaited RBS Shield final at Murrayfield proved a major anti-climax.

Beaten only once all season, Livi found themselves two converted tries in arrears after just six minutes and went on to lose 15-30.

“At the start we gave them too much respect. Then we got ourselves back into it a little bit.

“But midway through the second half our discipline let us down and they punished us a bit,” said former Currie centre McMahon who acknowledged that, overall, a promotion-winning campaign in East Division One had to be regarded as a success.

Livi tries came in the second half from stand off Craig Bolan and winger Jamie King and, while star performer John Bruton had a hand in creating both from scrum half, in the longer term the club’s major discovery could be an unsung prop forward from Lithuania.

Considering he is only in his second season of rugby, Marius Tamosaitis, looked the part which wasn’t really surprising given his sporting pedigree. Said McMahon: “Marius is still only 22-years-old and has a lot to give once he finds his feet in rugby. He arrived at the club thinking it might help improve his English as well as keep him fit and it quickly transpired he was the European under-21 kettlebell champion.

“Marius has made such quick progress we are trying to alert the Lithuanian rugby authorities because he could well make it internationally with them.”

On the club front coach Scott Paris, the former Edinburgh District and Scotland Under-21 prop, revealed he is standing down in order to return to playing, aged 35.

“I was kind of thrown in at the coal face without coaching qualifications after I got injured. Talks are taking place to identify a successor and I’m sure whoever takes over will be guaranteed a club on the up.

“Against Marr we were just caught cold and when they came out of the blocks the way they did we found their backs lightning quick.

“But in every other respect it has been a good season with the prospect of more to come.

“We’ve won our first league title since 1992 and if our last appearance in a Shield final saw us lose several players to Currie this time we are better prepared to hold on to them.

“One effect of Currie not running an under-18s this season has been for lads who might have travelled there to stay with Livingston. As a consequence we have fielded two teams at this age-group with a dozen players about to step up and join quite an experience crop in the senior ranks.”

A string of players will also head out to Perth, Western Australia, shortly to join Wanneroo rugby club under a twinning arrangement and undoubtedly return with benefits to show.

Compared to a year ago when Livingston were only spared relegation by reconstruction it is a dramatic turn-around – even if Paris does not know which league will accommodate the club next season.

“Because we are so central we could be placed in either the East or West Championship division and a decision has still to be made. Regardless, with the management team the club now has in place there is every reason to believe we can go further.”

McMahon sportingly admitted “the better team won” but it wasn’t immediately apparent Livi would be playing catch-up throughout.

Early pressure dissipated when Marr winger Scott Bickerstaff latched on to a cross-kick and beat two tackles when running in a try from half way after two minutes.

Rory McGee’s touchline conversion did justice to the quality of the score and the same player found himself on target again when Paul Burke rumbled over from a line-out.

Bolan’s penalty stemmed the tide but when Conor Bickerstaff took advantage of a powerful hand-off to go clear for a third try the Ayrshiremen had a 19-3 interval lead coinciding with their back row Fraser Grant spending time in the sin-bin.

Livingston would actually edge the second period 12-11 but that was academic as they never really got close enough to worry their opponents.

Tries by Bolan and King did cut the deficit to four points but almost as soon as the second score was recorded substitute Geoff Caldwell was yellow carded in the 67th minute and a Stephen Adair try, followed by two McGee penalties, left Marr cruising to the Shield at the end of an unbeaten season.

In the other finals, Oban Lorne took the Bowl with a 19-14 win over Grangemouth while Ayr made it a league and cup double thanks to a try in the final minute of extra time which finally saw off Melrose 28-25.

Shield scorers

Livingston: Tries: Bolan, King. Conversion: Bolan. Penalty: Bolan.

Marr: Tries: S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff, Burke, Adair. Conversions: McGee (2). Penalties: McGee (2).

Livingston: D Edwards, K Buchan, R Neil, A McMahon, J King, C Bolan, J Bruton, M Tamosaitis, L Barrett, N Scobie, S Hay, J Millar, J Watt, A Johnston, S Logan. Subs: D Stone, A Scobie, G Caldwell, A Laird, B Middlemass, S Mushet, G Wilson.

Marr: C Bickerstaff, S Bickerstaff, A Gault, A Rankin, G Ness, R McGee, G Baird, C Nisbet, S Adair (C), F Ferguson, C Craig, K Kirk, S Kirk, P Burke, F Grant. Subs: R Kennedy, D Morrison, A Johnson, J Evans, A Bate, A Mil, M Paxton.

Referee: D McClement (SRU).